Little People and Communication: Give Them the Language of Feelings


Dear Nurturer,

As I grow and change, I want to share with you what is happening inside of me: my needs, my wants, my discoveries, my questions, my ideas, and my feelings.  I need a way to do this!  That way is language

When you give me the gift of language–specifically, we’ll be describing the Language of Feelings–we can connect with one another more deeply. 

I will know you see me, understand me, and love me.  I will feel safe.  Feeling safe helps me to trust you, and trusting you is the foundation of strong secure attachment and healthy social-emotional development.      


What is the Language of Feelings?

Simply put, the “Language of Feelings” describes the words–signed and spoken–we give to the emotions we experience in our brains and bodies. 

Using language to share our inner world with those on the outside is not only connective, it is powerful.  When a DHH child can use language to tell about his feelings, he feels far less frustrated.  He acts in more positive ways. Over time and with daily practice, he becomes a more fully integrated person.

Every human being–no matter how small–longs to belong, to be loved just as she is, and to be understood.

The best way we can nurture a child’s growing heart and mind is through the process of sharing and receiving one another in healthy, developmentally-appropriate ways, one day at a time.

You are the perfect person to give the Language of Feelings to your DHH child!

How-To Guide

How can I help my DHH little one learn the Language of Feelings?

The Language of Feelings can be learned everywhere in our daily lives! Meals and snacks, dressing and changing routines, bath time, bedtime, trips around town, playtime (both alone and with others), snuggle time, and read alouds are all wonderful opportunities for nurturers to sign and talk about feelings. 

All children do their best learning–about themselves, their caregivers, their friends, and their world–when they are in familiar places doing comfortable routines with favorite, trusted adults.

Your role in the journey is quite simple:

You can encourage your DHH child to notice what she is feeling, and what he is seeing those around him feeling.  Then, you can connect feelings signs and words to these observations.

Your DHH child likely needs a bit of extra intentional support from you in discovering and practicing this connection between emotions and signs/words.  This is perfectly normal!  Every child grows at a unique pace.

Some other tools to shed light as you support your child in learning the Language of Feelings include:

Let books help teach the Language of Feelings.

Build a toolbox full of favorite board and picture books.
Show Me How >

Bring the Language of Feelings into my play.

Pro-tip: Most of a young DHH child's day should be spent in play.
Show Me How >

Consider your DHH child’s unique visual and listening needs.

Loving Caregiver + Daily Routines + Calm, Quiet Environment = BEST. TEACHERS. EVER!
Show Me How >

Honor natural looking rhythms.

Looking rhythms take time to develop.
Show Me How >

Time communication intentionally.

Timing is a big deal. Truly.
Show Me How >

Use gentle touch strategically.

Your gentle touch can make a big impact.
Show Me How >

Use the “here and now” to provide language.

A strong foundation in the Language of Feelings is built in the present.
Show Me How >

Use your little one’s line of sight wisely.

Sign within your child's "visual bubble."
Show Me How >

Give Them The Language Of Feelings Printable

Download the Give Them The Language Of Feelings printable handout.
Show Me How >


How does acquiring the Language of Feelings support my DHH child’s lifelong development?

Our emotions always have a way of coming out, even in the most easy-going personalities. Our feelings make us who we are, and they will be with us our entire lives.  Having tools to express them is essential. 

Collecting these tools starts now!

The Language of Feelings strengthens my brain, body, and relationships.

Early Brain Development


  • Increased attention to emotional signals within the brain and body
  • Strong ability to learn, remember, and solve challenges with courage and tenacity
  • Greater self-regulation stemming from the ability to choose language rather than “acting out” in negative ways to express emotions

Strong Sense of Self


  • Confidence in being seen, understood, and welcomed in relationships
  • Improved mental health due to being able to identify emotional needs and process feelings with others
  • High levels of resilience needed to overcome life’s stressors and challenges

Healthy Relationships


  • Knowledge of others’ needs, feelings, perspectives, and intentions  
  • Increased empathy toward others
  • Ability to look for ways to engage positively with people and contribute to the community
  • Greater “emotional intelligence,” which is a strong predictor of mental and physical health, as well as school and job success


Curious To Learn More?

Check out our additional Relationship Resources for more information on nurturing your child. 

Scroll to Top